Olympic qualification is ramping up for England’s badminton stars with the unrelenting Masters schedule taking the players to Bangkok for this week’s Thailand Masters. Marcus Ellis will be competing on two fronts in what is already the third Masters event of 2020, with the 30-year-old teaming up with Chris Langridge in the men’s doubles, and Lauren Smith in the mixed event. Smith will also be competing in the women’s doubles with regular partner Chloe Birch, while Birch and Toby Penty will see their names in the respective singles draws should they come through qualification in the World Tour Super 300 competition.

Ellis and Langridge will be looking to improve on their showing in Indonesia last weekend, where they exited the tournament in the first round, following a three-game tussle with the world number-one pairing of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo.

The English pair will play the eighth-seeded duo of He Ji Ting and Tan Qiang in their opening round tie, with ranking points more crucial than ever in the run up to Tokyo 2020. The two pairs have never faced off with each other but with just seven places separating them in the rankings, it’s a match that looks set to go down to the wire in the Thai capital.

Ellis and Smith will join forces again after a second-round exit in Jakarta, and will face Russian duo Rodion Alimov and Alina Davletova in their first-round match as they look to improve on their 11th placed world ranking. With an automatic berth into the first round, Smith and Birch will await a qualification winner in the women’s doubles event, while Birch will face Malaysian Jin Wei Goh in a singles qualifier.

Penty will be looking to secure qualification to the first round in his qualification match with Chun-Yi Lin of Chinese Taipei, with the Englishman missing out in Indonesia after defeat to Koki Watanabe of Japan at the same stage. Come through that and Penty could be taking on China’s Shi Yu Qi, among the top-ranked players in men’s singles badminton.

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